The draft report, by MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten (EPP-ED, Netherlands), contrasts with a recent Commission report, which presented a mixed picture of Turkey's advances but recognised for the first time that it had reached "market economy" status (EurActiv 06/11/08).
Almost half of the paragraphs in the nine-page report, to be discussed and voted in the Parliament's foreign affairs committee next Tuesday, start with the words "regrets" or "is concerned".
In particular, the report voices concerns over "ongoing polarisation within Turkish society and between the main political parties," which is reported to have deepened, with a negative impact on the functioning of Turkey's political institutions.
The government, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is criticised for not having adopted "a comprehensive programme of political reforms". Regret is also expressed over the fact that the government did not present any anti-corruption strategy.
"No progress has been made on establishing full systematic civilian supervisory functions over the military and on strengthening the parliamentary oversight of military and defence policy," reads the draft.
The Turkish military establishment, often referred to as "Kemalists", guardians of the political inheritance of Kemal Ataturk, recently launched a procedure to close down the ruling AKP party for being "a centre of anti-secular activities". The case was a major cause for concern in the EU, until the Turkish Constitutional Court recently decided not to close down Erdogan's party base (EurActiv 31/07/08).
The report also deplores that initial efforts to reform the Turkish constitution "resulted in a dispute over the headscarf issue," further polarising society. The Turkish government is asked to resume work on a new civilian constitution, which would place human rights and fundamental freedoms at its core.
'Ergenekon' crackdown welcomed
One positive paragraph is dedicated to the beginning of a trial against the so-called "Ergenekon" group, a mysterious organisation of the secular elite charged with forming a terrorist group to overthrow the government. The report encourages the Turkish authorities "to continue investigations and fully uncover the organisation's network in the state structures".
The report is critical of human rights in fields such as the freedom of expression, the freedom of press, freedom and respect of different religious communities, as well as the need to find a lasting settlement of the Kurdish issue. Also, the report voices concern over "continuing hostility and violence against minorities". Forced marriages and so-called "honour killings" are condemned in a separate paragraph.
Both paragraphs which fall under the chapter "Ability to take on obligations of membership" start with "regrets". The Parliament "regrets" that Ankara did not fulfil its commitments under the EU-Turkey customs union, nor under the association agreement.
The chapter on "Building good neighbourly relations" starts with a call on Turkey to facilitate a suitable climate for ongoing talks over reunification of Cyprus, by withdrawing its forces from the island and not meddling in negotiations between the president of Cyprus and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.
As in the Commission report, Turkey is congratulated for its growing role in the region, in particular in the Middle East and the South Caucasus. Turkey is also congratulated over its election as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council from 2009 and encouraged to coordinate its positions with the EU.
Speaking to EurActiv, the author of the report, Ria Oomen-Ruijten, said she expected amendments to be made to her text before its final adoption early next year, but not to an extent that would change its general tone.
"For sure, there will be amendments, and as always I will try to overcome this and to keep the report as it is. Up till now I have always succeeded in that," Oomen-Ruijten said.